Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
An interesting fact about ginger...it is an entirely cultivated plant. It was bred from wild plants, over 5,000 years ago to arrive at the state we now find it in. Originally cultivated in the islands of Southeast Asia it's popularity quickly spread through out the whole of Asia. It is one of the first spices exported to the Middle East in the 1st. Century CE.
The applications of ginger in the culinary world knows no bounds. From savory to sweet this spicy herb works well with everything! Beyond it's culinary uses, ginger has been a standard go to for herbalist and the topic of much scientific investigation for its many uses.
Ginger contains gingerol a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It is also a potent antioxidant. This makes it wonderful for any condition of congestion, whether it be mucosal congestion from coughs, colds, asthma, bronchitis or blood congestion from an infection, over burdened liver, spleen or stomach. Researchers have determined that ginger tea is the single most useful treatment for morning sickness during pregnancy. In cases of stomachaches, indigestions, sluggish digestion ginger as a tea or in capsules will clear things up quickly.
Because of it's anti-inflammatory properties is is extremely helpful for sore achy muscles, tendonitis, bursitis and arthritis. Patients with osteoarthritis have been effectively treated for pain using ginger extracts and topical applications. Poultices made of castor oil mixed with powdered ginger are excellent for decongesting the chest or the liver and also beneficial in reduce the pain of menstrual cramping.
Ginger has also been cited for its ability to reduce blood sugars making it an excellent choice for those who are pre-diabetic or suffer with type 2 diabetes. Combine with a healthy low glycemic diet many have been able to reverse this condition.
The best thing about ginger is the taste...everyone loves the taste of ginger! Extremely juicy this rhizome is an excellent addition to fresh raw fruit and vegetable drinks. As a tea, cut and sifted ginger can be added to any of your favorite herbal, green or black teas. Powdered ginger added to nut milks, smoothies and sauces. Ginger oil has been used for aromatherapy for centuries both topically and diffused. Fresh ginger always a plus when you can find plump fresh cuttings. Watch out for moldy ginger...it easily grows green penicillium mold. Asian markets usually have the BEST ginger! Don't accept shriveled or slimy rhizomes. If the fresh choice doesn't look good, ditch it for a dried or powdered form.
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